February 2010

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West African Children Need the Lord!

by Gerhard Strobes

Why Should We Pray For Children?

King David said in Psalm 139:15,

“When my bones were being formed, carefully put together in my mother’s womb, when I was growing there in secret, you knew that I was there.”

Every Child in the Womb is A Miracle in Progress

One cell divides into two and two becomes four. This small and seemingly insignificant lump of cells becomes a complete little human being within 12 weeks. Each is completely unique! Our God is doing this. And all the time while He is shaping this human being in His own image, He is dreaming a very special and unique dream for each one of them.

Every time I think of this I can only stand in awe before my Creator. We all agree that the creation of a human being is an amazing miracle. But when the baby is born, all is not over! Cells continue to divide and multiply. This process of creation continues. One way to view children is as miracles in progress. Nations are formed by adults who were once children. Maybe we can begin by praying for those unborn babies within these nations. Let us start to see those dreams that God has for them right now.

Every Child Has Open Hands

A French Jesuit once said: “Give me a child for his first seven years and I will have him for the rest of his life.” Jesus Christ said: “I assure you that unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
Why does Jesus tell all adults that they must become like little children?

I like to say that children have open hands. Children naturally accept the essence of the Christian faith: grace, love, trust, servanthood, and joy. They are pliable and moldable. It is like a flower that is in just the right season to receive the pollen and ultimately bear fruit. Miss this season and through a miracle the clock has to be turned back to create that season of readiness again. Eighty-five percent of people that do become Christians do so between the ages of four and 14 years. (Bryant Myers: “The State of the World’s Children: A Strategic Challenge to the Christian Mission in the 1990s,” paper presented to EFMA Executive Leadership Retreat, Glen Eyrie, September 1992)

Every Child is Held Captive and ‘Crying’ Out for Freedom

Given this one fact, children should be central to the missionary strategies of the body of Christ. But this is not always the case. Maybe the reason is that children are definitely central to the strategy of the evil one. With precision and with care ‘dungeons’ are constructed to keep children captive from experiencing the love and light of the gospel of Christ.

Many things that hinder children from being reached by Jesus are external: politics, religion and culture. These are things imposed by adults. Adults have many internal hindrances like a belief system, pride, greed, hate, fear, and being entangled in sin.

When Jesus noticed this, he was angry and said to his disciples, “Let the children come to me, and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14, NIV).

Maybe Jesus is still angry when he looks at the situation of these children. The fact is, whether we want to admit it or not, without change another generation of children from unreached people groups is being lost.
And Jesus said:

“In just the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost” (Matthew 18:14, NIV).

He is the Good Shepherd that leaves the 99 in the field and goes to seek the one that is lost. If we look at these giants that keep these children captive, humanly speaking they are lost. The only thing that will open the doors of this prison is the body of Christ taking hold of these children and through prayer giving birth to their freedom.

Every Child Can Carry a Testimony

Children are change agents. They can take that unconditional love and healing back to their families with childlike sincerity. Doesn’t Psalm 8:2 say, “Out of the mouth of babes and infants, you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger (NIV).”
There are many testimonies of children leading parents and communities to truth. Why is it so important that we break through those walls and bring freedom to those children? In addition to what I have already said, there is even a much deeper and more important call from these children.

Every child is Suffering and Hungry for Love

Jesus Christ said, “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me” (Matthew 18:5, NIV). Children have open hands and a nature that easily trusts and receives. This makes them vulnerable. These treasured creatures created in the image of God are the focus of the attacks of Satan. He sees it as his greatest opportunity to damage the image of God. Children are indeed suffering; victims of war, sexual abuse, child labor, divorce, diseases, orphaned and suffering loss. The nurturing homes that should be there for children are often found to be broken. They are in need of being welcomed in the Name of Christ. Like a seedling that is not yet a tree needs sunshine, protection and nurturing, these little children need the love Jesus intended to give in healthy families and in relationship with Himself. If they do not receive it they will end up growing to be a broken generation like the one before them.

The Story of Every Child is a Battle for a Lost Soul

Ezekiel 34:16 “I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak…” (NIV)
Isn’t this what Jesus is looking for in his church, the heart of a shepherd? He Himself said, “The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness” (John 10:10, NIV)

With this thought we have to turn our prayers to those followers of the Good Shepherd: Those who have to search for the one that is lost and rescue them from the mouth of the lion. They will need wisdom, because the lion is nothing like the parent. Paul said in Ephesians 6:12. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (NIV).”

We join the Good Shepherd in this battle when we go down on our knees and plead that every child will be free to receive the life in abundance that Jesus wants to place in their open hands. You can become part of this dream He has, by praying for the children that make up these nations this very month!

Gerhard Strobes is a lecturer at Petra College for child evangelism. He obtained his chemical engineering and masters in environmental engineering at the University of Pretoria, in South Africa. After working for six years at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Pretoria as an engineer commissioning industrial water treatment plants, he decided to become equipped as a trainer of leaders in child evangelism. God called him to raise up people who are passionate about sharing Jesus with children. He joined Petra College since they shared the same call. Currently he is part of the training team of Petra College who equip leaders for children’s ministry in 35 Africa countries as well as in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.


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From the Editor

by Keith Carey

Last July, I read two stories about Africa that shocked me. One of them was about three boys who lured an eight-year-old girl into a shed and raped her. All four children are Liberian refugees living in the United States. I started to wonder where children learn that this is acceptable behavior. The other article may have explained why. It was about “soldiers” in the Central African Republic (CAR) military sexually assaulting women that they were charged to protect. When the news reporters asked the high-ranking officers what they thought about this, the officers acted as if this wasn’t a problem.

About one-third of the people in Liberia are nominal Christians, and that figure is almost doubled in the CAR. Isn’t the Church supposed to transform a community? What went wrong? Has the cultural affinity for twisted machismo in Africa triumphed over biblical teachings?
Someone needs to teach biblical Christianity in the church, and not settle for anything less. Children need to be brought up in the ways of the Lord.

This month we will pray for the children among the many unreached people groups in West Africa. As we pray for the suffering of the unreached people groups, let us not neglect to pray for those who have the resources to help us rise above our fallen state.